Wednesday , June 20, 2018

Understanding your foods’ glycemic index

THE month of the “Christmastide,” not “Yuletide,” is here.

I will explain later why “Yuletide” is an erroneous name popularized to mean the season of Christmas or Christmastide.

In the meantime, let us be familiar with probably the most important measure of carbohydrates in your food, which is a critical one, particularly among diabetics and pre-diabetics, during Christmastide with all the parties that Filipinos are most familiar with and often anticipate all year through.

“Glycemic” is a medical term that refers to the “level of glucose (or glycogen) in the blood.” Thus, the Glycemic Index (GI), according to the Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF), is the “relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods” based on their effect on the blood glucose levels.

Foods that have high GI value (at least GI 70) contain carbohydrates that are digested quickly, absorbed and metabolized in the body quickly, and quickly increase your blood glucose level, causing problems with people suffering from diabetes mellitus (or diabetes). Blood glucose level usually peaks at high levels and within 30 minutes after intake. The glucose, however, disappears from the blood as quickly as well within one hour and 45 minutes. Consequently, you get very full quickly and get hungry very quickly, causing havoc to your blood sugar level if you are aiming at losing weight or controlling your diabetes.

Conversely, foods with low GI value (GI 55 or less) contain carbohydrates that are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized, ensuring a slower rise in blood glucose level, thus posing no problem for diabetics. These carbohydrates peak at less than half that of high GI foods and at more than 30 minutes after ingestion. The glucose disappears gradually and toward at least two hours after a meal. As a result, you stay full for a far longer period, allowing you to effectively control your weight and manage your diabetes. Foods with GI values of 56 to 69 are considered to contain medium GI carbohydrates.

However, it is also important to know the food’s Glycemic Load to really know how much carbohydrates you are taking in, which is crucial for weight or diabetes management. And yet, we must leave that for the next Wednesday.

In the meantime, why is “Yuletide” the wrong term to use? It is so because it was a term referring to the Wild Hunt festival in honor of the Germanic pagan god Odin. Thus, there is nothing Christian about that name. Thus, the most accurate term is “Christmastide” instead.